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“Born To Shine” or why that Big Grams album is the best thing you’ll hear in 2015

September 29, 2015

Winter’s coming and I still don’t have broadband registered on my name. Yet, I have come out of hiding because I am simply dying to tell you what a f&*!#% great album Big Grams released. To outline why this is the best thing you’ll hear in 2015, however, I thought I should start with some background details..

AlbumCovver-620x620

Phantogram is an outstanding US duo, which is constantly redefining the art of music as we know it. Please note I am intentionally not mentioning any specific music genres here. It’s just that there is no point of me trying to label their sound because whatever I come up with, it would be utterly inaccurate. What’s so special about Phantogram‘s music is the way Josh ‘Mother-Fucking’ Carter (a.k.a. JMC because he obviously “makes so many fuckin’ dope beats) and Sarah Barthel collaborate with each other. They’ve managed to fully sync their love for music and their ideas of what they should be doing, which enables them to create some absolute masterpieces.

I can talk about my endless love for these guys and how they embody everything I like about everything all day long but I feel like I’d be going off topic. So, let’s get back to Antwan Patton or André 3000’s “brother for life“, better known by his stage name Big Boi.

Unfortunately, I am no Big Boi expert but as far as I’m concerned – he will always be the man,.. the legend who reached out to Phantogram and initiated all this. History shows that one day Antwan woke up and heard some Phantogramshared JMC’s killing beats on his website.. and one thing lead to another. Moral of the story is that Phantogram found themselves working on three songs for his album “Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors”, which left him wanting more.

In other words – Phantogram + Big Boi = Big Grams.

Big Grams‘ EP, which features 7 songs, came out right when I was starting to get anxious about the fact that Phantogram have neither announced a new EP/LP nor some further tour dates for Europe. Not gonna tell you about that time I missed their London dates because that’s a truly painful story but hey-ho.. Good news is that right after I got all hyped up about Big GramsPhantogram announced that III is coming. I must say that Big Boi and Phantogram did such a great job on their album that they managed to both satisfy my hunger for some real good music and leave me craving for more. Obviously, that’s what Sarah and JMC are particularly good at.

What impressed me straight from the beginning, however, was Big Grams‘ approach to launching their record. After laying low for quite some time, they kicked off by teasing us all on social media with short samples from the album. Each sample came out with its own trophy, which represented one of the seven deadly sins. Oh, yes.. and they even have their background stories, which you can check on their Tumblr page that’s been used for engaging with all the die-hard fans out there (including myself).

Big Grams

I. “Run For Your Lie” – Sloth

II. “Lights On” – Pride

III. “Fell in the Sun” – Envy

IV. “Put it on Her” – Lust

V. “Goldmine Junkie” – Greed

VI. “Born to Shine” – Gluttony

VII. “Drum machine” – Wrath 

Needless to say, they’ve been killing it on Instagram and Twitter without making their Facebook page the holy grail of Big Grams updates. Interestingly, their website also didn’t serve this purpose because they came up with one helluva good integrated approach of talking to the right people at the right places instead. YouTube, iTunes and Spotify were a must but what surprised me is that they even came up with a game. A game! How better could it get???

supergrams

Supergrams (e.g. the game) basically proved that this record was thought through from begging to end. The game allows you to play as an 8-bit member of the band to leverage the seven deadly sins by nabbing coins and power-ups, whilst avoiding various pitfalls along the way. You see what I mean?

Big Grams

They didn’t even miss out good old traditional media. This is when I realised Big Grams will be taking Phantogram’s game up to the next level. Why? We’re not talking popularity here. We’re talking strategy. So far the band has been maintaining a really strong relationship with alternative media such as Pitchfolk and Flood. However, this time around they premiered their album on Jimmy Fallon and kicked off their media campaign with a Huff Post interview. Did I stress enough they’ve been using videos a lot? Well, I most certainly enjoyed their live-chat sessions on Facebook.

There’s also Leroy (who’s the cutest morkie that ever lived on this planet). Because why the hell not?

Leroy

However, it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t talk music in this post. I’d say the album is flawless but I am still fighting my bias towards Skrillex. Yet, there’s a very good reason why they teamed up with him so I am not gonna question that choice. Thus, it’s no surprise the majority of people, who are neither Phantogram nor Big Boi fans, were all hyped up about Drum Machine before they even listened to the entire album.

Still, there’s the track with Run the Jewels. I must confess that the very thought of having Phantogram, Big Boi and Run the Jewels in the same room makes me shiver. Hence, Sarah and JMC, known to have a sweet spot for hip hop, had it coming for a while (see video below). I just never thought they’re gonna hit a gold mine with Run the Jewels even though I was hoping that would be the case when I randomly spotted a photo of Sarah with Killer Mike. Yet again, I still wonder what would happen if you mix up some Phantogram with Danny Brown. Oh, my darling..

I cannot simply wrap up this post without making note of Sarah’s new “hot blonde” look. It most certainly makes a massive difference.. not so much for her (because she’s a Goddess) as much as it does for me. That one shade of blond keeps reminding me this is Big Grams rather than Phantogram. It also makes me quite happy because it sort of signifies that Sarah and JMC were smart enough to find a way to channel their ideas in a way that does not interfere with whatever the hell they do as Phantogram. Yet again,.. what an album!

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I’ve been listening to Big Grams 24/7 and the more I listen to it, the more fascinated I get with the way Big Boi, Sarah and JMC managed to create an album, which carries a little bit of something extra special from each one of them. This album most certainly managed to excite me about what’s coming next for those two – not only as Phantogram but as part of Big Grams too. I must say I am a bit concerned about the side effects Phantogram’s 3rd album will have on my psychological state because I don’t even know what to expect. I am just sure it will be brutal.

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Some last words before I go offline again – I am genuinely proud of Barthel and Carter, who have remained true to themselves, which allows them to create the music they want not the music that would sell their records. This seems like a luxury nowadays, which is probably why you don’t get to meet bands like Phantogram every day and why you don’t get to listen to collaborations like Big Grams that often.

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